I have been trying to drag the last glimmer of life out of an old Gore Paclite jacket for the past year. The poor pink thing (used to be red) is now so thin it is transparent in places, has so many bramble rips that it looks like Edward Scissorhands' pants and above all, has gone from waterproof to absorbent. To replace it would cost over £200! For something I will undoubtedly shred within a week? No thanks.
Singletrack recently highly rated the Keela Saxon jacket. As luck would have it, local boy Colin from Run Venture is currently knocking them out for £50 instead of the website price of £80. So I bagged one, threw caution to the wind and to hell with the consequences. When it comes to risking the amount we usually spend on a takeaway, I'm a proper reckless bugger.
Straight off, you can see this isn't a cyclists' specific jacket, for one, the arms are the dimensions of windsocks. Like most cyclists I have the arms of a tyrannosaurus rex, along with the legs of a sparrow and arse of a baboon. The Keela's arms are roomy enough for the Hulk's bicep bursting potential, which is great for putting it over a post-ride hoody, but a bit flappy on the bike. You can do up the velcro wrist closure things, but that only makes the arms look like the kind of poofy-armed shirt you'd expect Meatloaf to wear. The arms are long enough to accommodate my extensive ape index, and there are those cute little thumb loops to keep it all in place; which serve no function at all on the bike.
It is nice and long in the body, slim-fit, basically bang on the money. It comes with a non-removable hood that is so impressively voluminous , you can get it over a cycle helmet - instant morale with zero peripheral vision or hearing. The zip comes up to just below your nose for the full South Park impressions, again for maximum foul weather morale. You can roll the hood down to get it out of the way but it makes it really uncomfortable and not worth bothering with. Who rolls down the hood on a hoody anyway? Just go and buy a sensible sweater, C&A man.
A major bugbear for me is the zips on 99% of jackets. The Keela has 2 zipped side pockets and none of the zips have storm flaps. I have an amazing ability to wreck a zip a month, and I know these will be full of grit, worn out and the source of much melancholy before summer arrives. I hope I'm proved wrong, and at £50 it's a gamble worth taking.
The reason I've always gone for Gore Tex is for its 'boil it and tumble dry' care routine. None of this 'wash only with mermaids' sweat on a full moon' bollocks. Life is too short to handwash in pure soap. Among the list of Horton rules (never eat anything bigger than your head, don't buy anything you can't run in) is the one that states only buy clothes that an survive grievous laundry harm.
So the Keela Saxon looks good on and off the bike, will fit you even if you grow Hulk arms, is currently waterproof and cost me fifty squids. It pushes most of my buttons, and pushes the 'cheap as chips' button - the big, red, 'cheap as chips' button, with a hammer. Will it survive the Fully Sussed mangle? Nothing ever has, but I reckon it'll easily do fifty quid worth.